I recently had the opportunity to present “PR University: Building Your Business with Public Relations” to the HARDI Sales and Marketing Conference in San Diego. I was impressed with the audience’s interest, engagement and enthusiasm for the topic. And there’s a good reason for that. Because your industry, like others, is changing in significant ways, and PR can significantly help grow and protect your business.

What exactly is Public Relations? Oddly enough, it has far less to do with the public than you might think. In PR-speak, “publics” are groups of people: customers, employees, shareholders, the media, government regulators and even HVACR industry leaders. In marketing lingo, they are called target audiences.

An effective PR strategy builds mutually beneficial relationships between your company and the publics on whom your success depends. Here are seven strategies you can use to accomplish this:


1. Generate news media publicity – Get to know your local business news media and notify those outlets when your company is doing something newsworthy. Expansion that creates jobs and new technologies that help customers save energy can be good stories, as are projects that benefit the public, like charity or community events.


2. Get involved with your community – It’s been said that people don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care. Support community events and build positive relationships with local organizations. This enhances your visibility and reputation, and can lead to new business relationships.


3. Seek Out Awards – In today’s world, people want to do business with companies that are at the top of their game. So pursue ways to win awards and highlight them on your website and marketing materials. Local chambers of commerce, economic development groups and business journals are good places to start.


4. Utilize special events – Producing your own special events or sponsoring existing ones creates opportunities to interact one on one with customers, referral sources and other people. Expanding your facilities? Hold an open house and make it a fundraiser for a community group. Sponsor a business journal’s construction industry awards event or host a hospitality suite at a sporting event.


5. Be astute and active about political issues – It’s vitally important to stay abreast of current events as well as to speak up and get involved with issues that concern you and your target audiences. This demonstrates your organization is a leader in your industry and communities.


6. Create content that humanizes and personalizes your business – People want to know they are dealing with businesses that are good to their employees and the public. Develop stories that make your people shine and include them in your materials along with sharing them with local media. This will help with recruiting as well as building business.


7. Plan for a crisis before it happens - Bad news travels at a blistering pace and can quickly damage your business and reputation. Yet fewer than 50 percent of businesses worldwide have a crisis plan. Don’t get caught off-guard.  Create a crisis plan so you know how you will handle problems and quickly respond to them.


In today’s fast-changing, hyper-competitive world, how you manage your public relations can make or break your business. Get started on your plan today, calling on a PR professional for assistance if needed.